Already since the beginning of the fifties, when the term "environmental protection" was not yet widespread, the universitary institute has been dealing with the problem areas of water quality, water supply, waste water and waste. The institute founded by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Franz Pöpel is today an interdisciplinary institution in which civil engineers, environmental protection technicians, biologists, chemists, food chemists, process engineers, geologists and geographers work.
The main tasks of the institute are research and teaching as well as the support of federal and state authorities, municipalities and industry in solving environmentally relevant problems. This can be achieved, for example, by external investigations of existing plants or pilot plants or by collecting the basic data for the conception and planning of plants on a labor scale.
The institute is headed by the Board of Directors to which all professors belong. It is divided into three chairs with departments and working areas as well as the Büsnau Teaching and Research Wastewater Treatment Plant (LFKW).
With a total of about 150 employees, it is one of the largest institutes of its kind in Europe.